Ex-teacher who raped woman with learning difficulties has sentence cut
A rapist has had his sentence slashed as an act of mercy – but may still end up dying in jail.
Disgraced ex-magistrate Santokh Minhas was jailed for nine years at Hereford Crown Court in December 2016 after being convicted of raping a woman with learning difficulties who is 40 years younger than him.
But his case reached London’s Appeal Court as the 68-year-old challenged his punishment on compassionate grounds.
Minhas, of Broadway Close, Shifnal, is suffering from terminal motor neurone disease, the court heard.
And one medic has reported that Minhas, who served as a magistrate in Telford, could have just nine months to live.
Cutting his sentence by four years, Lord Justice Holroyde said the trial judge “failed to treat his condition as mitigation”.
It was right that the Appeal Court should “take account of a recent significant deterioration in his condition”, he added.
“We consider that his sentence should be significantly reduced to reflect the impact of a prison sentence on his current state, and to reflect the fact that he will die from motor neurone disease in the near future.”
Minhas’ legal team had urged the three judges to free him immediately on a suspended sentence.
But Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing and Judge David Aubrey QC, said: “We must maintain a balance.
“We recognise that both he and his family will be distressed by our conclusion.
"They will focus on the hardship he will suffer while in prison towards the end of his life.
“But the court must not lose sight of the seriousness of his offending, nor of the harm suffered by his victim.”
Minhas had his sentence cut to five years and it remains open to him to petition the Home Secretary to sanction his compassionate release.
Minhas had been deputy headteacher at a school in Oswestry before moving to the John Hunt School, Telford.
He served on the bench as a magistrate in Telford as recently as 2010.
At the trial was cleared by a jury of five charges of rape, but found guilty of the sixth.
Minhas formerly served on Telford's Race Equality Council and was a committee member at Coalport Village Hall.
He was also part of Telford's Multi Cultural development service, which provides advice to schools teaching pupils for whom English is a second language.